“I learn to stop trying and I learn to try differently.”

We alcoholics are a stubborn group. When I joined the program, there was only one way to do something: my way. And if that doesn’t work, I’d try harder. Backed by a seemingly limitless amount of personal will, I was convinced that I could and could do something. As exhausting as it may have been (for me and those around me), at times I have also succeeded.

When I joined the program, I was told that I had to change my way of thinking and abandon my old ideas. Even though I changed some of them, I still thought my will, my determination and my way of doing and getting things would still work. I tried hard to let go, and when it didn’t work, I tried harder. During recovery though, my pain tolerance is not that high, and I feel the effects of straining much earlier and more importantly, the recovery has started to show me that there may be another way.

When my sponsor first suggested that I pray about a problem or situation, and then hand it over to my Higher Power, I thought for the first time, “Well, that’s not going to work. I have to …” When I tried it I have found that it has worked, and over the years I have discovered many other ways of handling things. Now, when I’m struggling with a problem or situation, I stop trying so hard and have learned to try differently. And it works (when I work it).

“If nothing changes, nothing changes.”

Early in the recovery I heard someone say that, “If you make a horse thief sober, all you have is a sober horse thief.” I learned that the 12 step program is a recovery program because it is a change program. Getting sober is not enough. I have known many people who entered the program and stopped drinking, but delayed or did not follow the steps, and soon found that they still have all the old problems, feelings and circumstances they had while drinking. Other than not drinking, not much had changed.

“The same man will drink again.” Another saying I heard when I was new reveals yet another danger of not working the steps and therefore of not changing. Driven and obsessed with the pain of the old self, he is a short distance from the temporary relief and the old solution of drinking. Again, if nothing changes (apart from not getting a drink), nothing changes and soon the same man will drink again.

“The only thing we have to change is everything.” The miracle of the program comes as we work the steps, abandon our old ideas and discard our old selves. The big book tells us we become “reborn”as a result of the work of the steps, and it is this new self that is capable of living a new life that is happy, joyful and free. The good news is that this total change is much easier than it seems and a natural result of working the steps In the end, everything changes as we change.

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